Cities experience cutbacks and delays due to pandemic

Community

RUSTON, LA. (KTVE/KARD)– With the pandemic and business closures during the Stay at home order, cities have seen a decrease in tax sales, forcing them to make changes.

“We had a concern that it was going to be worse than it was, so we put a lot of projects, several projects on hold. until after we really saw what was going to happen,” Ronny Walker, Mayor of Ruston, said.

Mayor Walker said the biggest problem cities are facing is not having help during the pandemic. He said while small businesses got help through payroll protections plans, local governments didn’t see any of those funds.

“Which helped those small businesses,” Mayor Walker said. “Government such as the City of Ruston did not receive any of that. If we had, we wouldn’t have had to put anything on hold, but cities were not eligible for that.”

Without the help, cities had to make budget cuts.

“Our budget starts October 1st. We actually cut back about $3M of our budget in anticipation of all of these issues,” Mayor Walker said.

These cuts not only took projects out of the equation, but also personnel. He said since then they have been able to bring some workers back, but it was a struggle for the office and the families of those they had to lay off due to the pandemic.

“After about two months when we saw what revenue was going to be from a sales tax standpoint, we went ahead and brought some of the individuals back, some of them that we had laid off or furloughed,” Mayor Walker said.

Now that the coronavirus vaccines are being distributed, Mayor Walker said he hopes essential workers get to take the vaccine soon to prevent them from any other possible delays.

“I hope that we can get back to normal because I’m telling you, small businesses, especially in north Louisiana, where we are, are really hurting and need things to get back to normal,” Mayor Walker said.

Mayor Walker said like other municipal offices, they, too, have had their share of COVID cases. He said this also played a part in the delays of many projects the city is currently working on.

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